Sometime in early 1957, the venerable Christian Dior confided to Lucienne Mathieu-Saint-Laurent that her young son Yves had been chosen as his successor. A few months later, the twenty-one year old found himself at the helm of France’s most distinguished atelier. Dior had no shortage of talented stock (Pierre Cardin had long been a favorite for the coveted anointment) but there was something in the apprenticeship of Saint Laurent that distinguished his talent. Perhaps the answer lies in the scrupulous dedication the young man showed in his elaborate poupées.
The designs are prolific, but most impressive are the two programs where he reveals a conceptual mastery of a collection as its own entity. While it’s true that the particulars (makeup by Helena Rubenstein, jewels by Scémama etc.) are trade insights he would have picked up from the Dior atelier, the heart of the show – a given style, pace and mood – were crafted by his own sensibility, assorted gowns, suits, wraps, and hats complimenting one another to create sum greater than it’s parts. That the blueprint existed only his imagination presents an incising challenge. We decided to recreate the Fall/Winter 1954-55 presentation below, to imagine how a precocious Saint Laurent would have envisioned his collection. We used his notes and the magic of today's technology to piece it together for you as if he had done it himself. It’s a rare and valuable peek in the formation of a creative genius.
PS Read Part one of the lovely story of the YSL paper dolls here